You know you should be exercising.
But how do you start and then keep up your dedication to the gym or a training routine when your schedule is overloaded with a million other things.
Or how do you push yourself to start working out if it’s been years since you last had a good self-imposed sweat?
If you want to make movement a regular part of your day and your life, you have many exercise options.
But you may be unsure about how to start working out if you’ve never really exercised regularly before.
Whether you’re looking to run, ride a bike, swim, lift weights, or do yoga, just thinking about how to start working out can feel intimidating.
Understanding the big picture of why physical activity is so very important for your physical and mental well-being is a good place to start.
That “runners high” is not just in their heads.
Exercising releases hormones called endorphins that promote feelings of euphoria and help you focus.
Working out also improves cardiovascular health and sleep quality, both of which improve your energy levels throughout the day and reduce the risk of a variety of diseases.
Moving your body more is also associated with a reduced risk of depression.
And exercise may help people who already have depression
Identify why you’re ready to incorporate a regular workout program into your life.
Fitness should be about your own goals and what feels right for you.
Everyone starts somewhere.
You can rest assured that the yoga teacher you follow on Instagram didn’t immediately pull off that handstand during her first class, or the CrossFitter didn’t bang out 10 pull-ups the first time they hung on the bar.
And those runners you see going for hours? At one point, jogging nonstop for five minutes was probably a victory for them.
Besides, your exercise routine is about you—it’s about your individual goals, your preferences, and your interests.
What works for the fitfluencer you follow may be way off from what you’re looking to implement in your own life.
Intentional, strategic habit changes, based on your personality, schedule, likes, and dislikes can make all the difference in whether or not you stick to your workout plans or get thrown off track.
Find a time that works for you.
There’s always been a lot of talk in the fitness world about when’s the best time to work out.
There is no set time that’s the best for working out.
The best time is always the one that fits your lifestyle, your preferences, and your energy level.” Find a workout you enjoy and look forward to it.
Just because all your friends love spinning or Cross Fit doesn’t mean you do, too.
Begin by really thinking about the things you enjoy — nature, group settings, playing sports, quiet time, or being challenged.
Then look for activities that meet one or more of your criteria.
Look at workouts that you’re good at.
Research shows that humans have a desire to be ‘good’ at something.
I encourage people to not only seek out things they find pleasurable and enjoyable, but also things that they’re confident doing or would like to become more proficient in.
Put it on your calendar as you would any other appointment
Once you have a workout (or even a few) that you want to try, give yourself a slow and steady break-in period.
Giving yourself a workout range for the week can also be helpful.
Give yourself a realistic range, like three to five days a week to start with.
Break up your workout into shorter spurts.
Are you skipping your workout because you don’t have time for the full routine?
Break up your physical activity into a few shorter 10-minute spurts throughout the day. Taking shorter walks throughout the day, as opposed to one longer walk that takes 30 minutes to an hour, will give you similar benefits.
Just make sure that you’re listening to your body.
If you’ve been going too hard, you may need a break, and that’s perfectly fine. Play some music to keep your energy up.
Playing some tunes could be just what you need to literally go the extra mile.
Research has found that playing music while exercising increases the duration of workouts for both men and women without a perceived increase in effort.
Starting a workout routine shouldn’t add to your stress—it should be a helpful self-care measure that makes you feel better instead.
And that is why you know you should be working out now!